April is National Poetry Month. It’s also National Autism Awareness Month.
To tie the two together, I wanted to write a poem about autism. I found that it was not so easy!
Like many other things, there are different levels of autism. I got this definition from the Autism Society’s website:
“Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a "spectrum disorder" that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees.”
Asperger’s Disorder is viewed by many to be a milder form of autism. “To the untrained observer, a child with Asperger's Disorder may just seem like a normal child behaving differently.”
I found a few good books for children about autism in our local library.
HOW TO TALK TO AN AUTISTIC KID, written by
Daniel Stefanski (an autistic kid), illustrated by Hazell Mitchell, Free Spirit Publishing 2011.
Daniel was diagnosed with autism at age nine. He wrote this book at age 14, with some help from his mother. This is an excellent book that helps kids understand autism, and helps them to interact with kids who have it.
Daniel is a friend of mine. He has done many book signings. He talked with me about his book, and he answered my questions through e-mail. You can read my interview with Daniel in my blog post dated June 9, 2011. Click on June 2011 in my archives on the left side of the page here.
MY BROTHER CHARLIE, by Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Elizabeth Peete, illustrated by Shane W. Evans, Scholastic Press 2010.
This is the story of Charlie, told from his sister’s point of view. It’s also the story of a family who learns from Charlie about togetherness, hope, tolerance, and love.
RUSSELL’S WORLD, by Charles A. Amenta III, illustrated by Monika Pollak, Magination Press 2011.
This book gives readers an inside look at a boy with autism and his family. Kids can read about what Russell and his family experience together, including the challenges that can come with autism. Back matter includes a note to parents, how to find services and treatment, how to use this book, and a page about Russell and his family.
Each of these books shows a child with autism at a different level, which I also found interesting.
It’s now been two years since Daniel wrote his book on how to talk to an autistic kid. Mary Stefanski, Daniel’s mother, was recently a guest blogger on Free Spirit Publishing’s blog. Click here to read her blog post, Social Skills Classes Help Autistic Kids.
Near the end of the post is a link to the blog, Autism Speaks, and a post by Matthew Lerner about autism and Promoting Teen Social Skills.
I did write a poem about autism. It will probably be one of those poems that will take me six months or more to get it right! I figured that the next best thing to writing a poem of my own, would be to share some poems written by others. Click here to go to Child Autism Parent Cafe where you can read some poems about autism.
Happy Poetry/Autism month!